Make sure your UK Visa Application is not refused because of VFS (Thailand) Ltd or any other overseas VFS Centre.
Who is VFS (Thailand) Ltd.?
VFS (Thailand) Ltd., is a Thai company that is currently used by the Home Office to process Visa Applications for those nationalities requiring an entry visa into the UK. VFS (Thailand) Ltd. is staffed by Thai Nationals and has no part in the decision to grant or decline your visa. It may appear that all they do is act as a post box and money collection agent for the British Embassy.
Does the British Embassy Process the UK Visa Applications in Thailand?
The UK Border Agency, now called the Home Office, processes all UK Visa Applications, in Thailand via the British Embassy in Bangkok. The UK Border Agency states on its Apply Portal that you can expect them to:
- help you find the right form;
- provide guidance notes to help you complete that form correctly;
- check that your application is complete and consistent before you send it to us;
- tell you what documents you need to supply as evidence;
and please note:
- It is mandatory to complete your application online in Thailand and now most countries overseas
So How is VFS Involved in a UK Visa Application?
The basic Application procedure is as follows:
- Get all of your documents together ready to complete the form.
Download a sample to see the questions asked – you CANNOT fill it in and submit it – that has to be done ONLINE
- Find the form you need by visiting the online portal and complete the form
- Book an appointment with VFS (Thailand) Ltd – you can be 10 minutes early or 20 minutes late.
- Attend appointment (if you are after the cut off time they will just send you away regardless of circumstances and you will have wasted time off work, accommodation and travelling costs which would be OK except ….).
- Wait for your queue turn. Note the Agents with multiple applications jump the queue (you will be there a while as the Agents are friendly with the staff there) – maybe 90 minutes
- Submit and wait for a decision from the British Embassy.
Information on the procedure for Applying for a UK Visitors Visa including some of the questions in the Application Form as at September 2011. Note you cannot submit a printout of this form and there may be more or less questions depending upon your responses. This link is useful to get an overview of what information you need to gather before you go online to register and complete the application.
And a description of one girl’s personal experience in applying for a Visitor’s Visa
So VFS (Thailand) Ltd. Is Just a Post Box Then!
Not so fast. Remember the UK Border Agency tells us that they will both publish guidelines and also tell us what documents to provide. You have no contact with the British Embassy in this process at all. You could reasonably conclude that VFS (Thailand) Ltd. would check the application and tell you what documents you need to provide; on behalf of the UK Border Agency to fulfill their promise (see above) – Right?
Bear in mind previously you would go to the Embassy and a very pleasant Civil Servant there would check your application was complete. If anything was missing then you had an opportunity to hand it over or come back later with the necessary documents.
So How does the Racket Work?
Having got everything together, including originals, translations and copies, you trog along to the VFS office located on 2nd Floor at Regent House 183 Rajadamri Road maybe 1.5 kilometers away from the British Embassy. Only the Applicant is allowed in – no foreigners is the rule (unless they are applying themselves of course). Thai agents are allowed in. So basically the rule seems to be only Thai people or other foreigners applying can go into the inner sanctum. We are not sure if a partner can go in as proxy for the applicant but for sure they do not want any foreigners in there.
The UK Border Agency website is NOT clear as to exactly what should be submitted eg:
- One question on the Application Form asks if you traveling with a partner or on your own? What constitutes a partner? Someone you are living with? If so how for long? (It is 2 years if you wish to apply for a Family Visit visa by the way but not sure if the same rationale applies to a Visitors Visa for your live in girlfriend)
- If you decide a live in girlfriend is not a partner to her boyfriend and they are visiting his mom then should mom be a sponsor? The UK Border Agency requires 6 months of Bank Statements from your sponsor! Bloody cheek. Isn’t it enough there is a house to stay at for free?
So in practice, the Applicant is hustled through the door and left to the mercy of his/her countrymen inside the VFS office. The ‘officer’ inside takes the documents and tips them out in a pile sorting through them. Picks a selection and then asks if there is anything else you want to submit.
The scam can work because the ‘officer’ accidentally ‘forgets’ to include some essential documents you have provided, knowing the Application will be refused and that you cannot submit documents after you leave. The ‘officer’ knows the Applicant is not going to be watching everything he does so will be unaware the missing paperwork has not been included until later when it is too late.
The ‘officer’ also knows when the Application is refused there is no opportunity to just submit the document that was omitted on purpose. The only right of Appeal is on Administrative grounds (or a full Appeal on grounds of race or Human Rights abuse) – you still cannot send in any supporting documents. An Administrative Appeal is just a method of checking the original UK Border processing officer added up the points correctly on what was originally submitted.
Hardly ‘telling you what documents you need to supply as evidence’ is it?
What’s in it for VFS?
Guess that is pretty obvious right? You get a Refusal of Entry Clearance. You cannot appeal. You cannot show the documents VFS omitted to send. You cannot contact anyone at the British Embassy. It is pointless to appeal because you cannot provide any supporting evidence and the UK Border ‘official’ most likely has processed the documents received via VFS correctly – just never received all of them. You cannot do anything except re-apply with another 3,800 baht fee from which you can be sure VFS gets their share.
Of course it could be that many of the VFS staff are just incompetent or ignorant or both. Many are certainly arrogant, dismissive and unhelpful. One way or another there is something wrong with the set up.
10 Questions for the UK Border Agency
- Why ask for the name, address, telephone and email of the Employer if you are not going to contact them if the Letter from Employer is missing? A phone call does not take long!
- Why ask for the Applicant’s telephone number and email if you are not going to ring or email them and invite them to submit the missing paperwork?
- Why not provide a tick list for the documents required for each type of visa stating if originals are required so the staff at VFS cannot make stupid mistakes – otherwise be sure that they will make stupid mistakes.
- Why make it impossible to submit simple documents that are required and that you see have been returned to you in error, after the date of submission?
- Why has the ‘service’ element disappeared by using VFS? The promise to check the application is complete is not met!
- Guidance document 6states originals are required. VFS (Thailand) Ltd. hands back originals and other documents saying they are not required and submits ones probably not required. In some cases the Applicants bank statements, letter from Employer and original birth certificates, divorce certificates and the like were given back to the Applicant with the comment ‘Not Required’ – Why?
- Guidance document 7puts the onus on the applicant to provide the necessary documentation. The officials at VFS provide applicants no help and simply give back arbitrary required documents preventing the Applicant from making a valid application. There has to be a way to submit paperwork after visiting VFS because they just do not do their job. Why is this not allowed?
- What checks and balances are taken to check VFS (Thailand) Ltd. are carrying out their duties properly?
- Why is a whole new application required when a refusal is given rather than inviting a supplementary application enclosing the missing information? We know the law requires new applications every time, but it does not state that the applicant cannot be invited to supply information that is missing – that is after all what used to happen.
- It appears that there is an emphasis on refusal unless an applicant can present a perfect application and that in processing the officer has almost no discretionary judgement. As in a court, the best way to judge a witness is to examine their body language. A visa applicant has to prove the veracity of their evidence – why has personal contact between the processing official and the applicant been sacrificed for this impersonal points system? People deserve to be treated as people not just as numbers!
If you are considering making an application for a visa you need to be very sure that you have every possible document needed in support. We suggest you write a Tick List in letter form of what is included so it is clear to the VFS staff and the Home Office processing the Application exactly what was with the Application. Keep a copy of everything by scanned it to your computer and uploading online for safe keeping.
Do not allow the VFS staff to stop you submitting anything. Remember the VFS staff are just collectors and have no other role. Do not expect them to give you any help – they will do the opposite. If you are a partner to the Applicant make sure they understand everything has to be submitted and tell them not to be bullied into accepting paperwork back because of their submissive Thai culture. The person accepting is no better than them and the air of authority they assume has absolutely no grounds. Treat them the same as post office counter staff – actually post office staff have to do more! Do not assume the VFS staff know anything about what you should or should not submit – they are there simply to accept every document you want give them – make them do their job.
Insist everything is included to enable the UK Border processing official to do their job.
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